Photo gallery Cool Science Images 2017

March 28, 2017 By Chris Barncard

Ten images and two videos by University of Wisconsin–Madison students, faculty and staff have been named winners of the 2017 Cool Science Image Contest.

A panel of eight experienced artists and scientists judged the scientific content and aesthetic and creative qualities of 131 images and videos entered in the 7th annual competition.

2017 Winning Cool Science Images

Video Winners

Two tiny globs of different kinds of fat — mostly liquid oil on the left, mainly solid fat on the right — are teased together until they combine into a droplet that retains some of the physical characteristics of both the oil and solid. This partial coalescence gives foods like ice cream and whipped topping their appealing texture and melting properties. Video by Abbey Thiel, graduate student, Hartel Lab, Food Science | Microscope

Hundreds of puffballs of the fungus Lycoperdon pyriforme cloud the air with spores during a rain shower. The puffball is the fungi’s reproductive structure, “puffing” out spores when bumped by something (like raindrops). The spores, distributed by the slightest breeze, can germinate to form new colonies of fungi feeding on decaying wood or other organic matter. Video by Cid Freitag, academic staff, DoIT Academic Technology | iPod Touch

“Scientists are rightly proud of the images they produce, but most of them end up printed at postage stamp size in a scientific journal,” says Steve Paddock, a contest judge, UW–Madison scientist, and science education fellow with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “This was an especially diverse group of subjects, and a great opportunity for them to get the audience they deserve.”

The 2017 winners include fauna from the backwaters of the Mississippi River and flora used as scaffolding to grow human tissue from stem cells, as well as a nebula that reminds stargazers of a running man and sparkling brain cells that reminded the contest judges of stars.

The images and videos were made using instruments ranging from smartphone cameras to telescopes to scanning electron microscopes, and each tells at least a piece of a story of discovery.

“I was trained to collect the most aesthetically pleasing images possible,” says Paddock. “There are so many images out there that contain important scientific information, but are also interesting as art. They draw you in.”

The Cool Science Image Contest is intended to recognize the technical and creative skills required to capture images or video that document science or nature. The contest is sponsored by Madison’s Promega Corp., with additional support from DoIT Digital Publishing and Printing Services and the UW–Madison Arts Institute.

Winning entries are shared widely on various UW–Madison websites, and all entries are showcased in a slide show at the Wisconsin Science Festival and in concert with a fall exhibit of winners at the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s Mandelbaum and Albert Family Vision Gallery.

UW-Madison 2017 Cool Science Image Contest winners are:

Sarah Brodnick, research specialist and lab manager in biomedical engineering, and Tim Korinek of Synergy Technologies for their scanning electron micrograph of a microscopic gold particle striking and melting a polymer surface.

Allison Cardiel, graduate student in chemistry, for her scanning electron micrograph of the flower-like, nanoscale structure of a copper crystal used as a catalyst in hydrogen fuel production.

Jayadevi Chandrashekhar, research specialist at the Waisman Center, and Kaylyn Freeman, undergraduate student researcher at Waisman, for their micrograph of neurons in the brain of a mouse.

Miranda Cullins, postdoc in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, for her micrograph of the woven muscle fibers that give the human tongue its range of movement.

Gianluca Fontana, postdoc in orthopedics and rehabilitation, for his scanning electron micrograph of human connective tissue growing on a decellularized parsley stem.

Cid Freitag, DoIT Designing Learning Experiences Studio Program Manager, for her video of hundreds of puffball fungi releasing clouds of spores.

Celia Glime, undergraduate student majoring in art and biology, for her photo illustration of a range of colors produced in test tubes by various chemical reactions.

Kyle Karlen, student of veterinary medicine, for his thermal camera image of a Holstein calf’s face taken to measure the pain response from a routine procedure in dairy cattle.

Natalia Lucero, undergraduate student majoring in communication arts and environmental studies, for her photograph of a tiny jumping spider alighted on the edge of a sheaf of paper.

Colin MacDiarmid, associate scientist in the Nutritional Sciences Department, for his photo — shot through a telescope — of a pair of nebulae in the sword of the constellation Orion.

Joseph McDonald, master’s student in public health, for his photograph of a Northern leopard frog hiding in the murky water of a marsh.

Abbey Thiel, graduate student in food science, for her video showing the partial mixture of different fats that give foods like ice cream and whipped toppings their appealing texture and melting properties.

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Tags: arts, awards, science